To clients, lawyers are usually a cost. At best they sometimes recover another cost. But to distressed debt investors, lawyers are a profit engine. In the case of Elliott Management, a very high-profit engine.
Elliott’s infamous bet on Argentine bonds yielded 10 to 15 times its original investment, according to The Wall Street Journal. Whether this calls for a redesign of sovereign finance is a serious question. But taking the system as it exists, the fund’s legal strategy was a grand success. It’s no coincidence that the clients who greenlighted, masterminded and stewarded the investment (founder Paul Singer and portfolio managers Jay Newman and Lee Grinberg) graduated from law school at Harvard, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania, respectively.
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